A little background (not in the book)
- Increased, sustained sympathetic tone increases the release of norepinephrine.
- Increased, sustained sympathetic tone that increases the release of norepinephrine has many deleterious health effects, including immunosuppression, increased pain, vascular constriction, artery disease, visceral pathology, and shortened telomere length.
- Chiropractic spinal adjusting works in part because it improves mechanical integrity that in turn inhibits sympathetic tone and inhibits the release of norepinephrine.
- Norepinephrine is a chemical member of the group catecholamines. Other catecholamines, particularly dopamine, can readily be converted into norepinephrine.
- Lifestyles that increase the levels of the catecholamine dopamine also increase the levels of the catecholamine norepinephrine, making it more difficult for the chiropractic adjustment to effectively improve health by inhibiting sympathetic tone and inhibiting the release of norepinephrine. Such lifestyles effectively render the chiropractic adjustment as an exercise in “swimming upstream.” Such lifestyles did not exist in the heydays of DD and BJ Palmer, but they are the rule today. Such lifestyles are against innate intelligence.
- Potentially the best book ever written to help understand such lifestyles and how it has negatively influenced neurochemistry and health is The Hacking of the American Mind, by Robert Lustig, MD.
Two stories from 2019 (also not in the book)
In my travels this year, two chiropractors shared nearly identical experiences. The chiropractors do not know each other. One is from Northwestern and the other is from Palmer Davenport. Both claimed to experience life-changing events while participating in chiropractic missions to Third World countries (one in Asia and the other in a Caribbean country). Both claimed to observe more chiropractic miracles in a single week than either had experienced in decades of clinical practice in the US. These Third World patients do not have lifestyles that increase levels of the catecholamine dopamine. Despite poverty, they live the innate lifestyle.
And now, the book review
Robert Lustig, MD, is a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco. His goal is to have the reader understand that pleasure and happiness are similar, as they both feel good, but they are not the same. Pleasure and happiness are separate phenomena, and often function as opposites. They are controlled by different neurochemicals:
- Dopamine is the neurochemical for pleasure.
- Serotonin is the neurochemical for happiness.
In our instant gratification culture, we buy a pleasure to increase happiness. But this changes our brain and saps our happiness, making us unhappy. Our minds have been “hacked.” Ironically, the more affluent the society (as contrasted with the Third World), the greater the hacking, the more the population is addicted to pleasure seeking, and the greater the societal unhappiness.
Governments and business have been able to harness the confusion between pleasure and happiness for their own purposes by taking advantage of our neurobiology.
People should understand the neuroscience of pleasure and happiness, each one’s relationship to the other, and how they are manipulated by our current food, technology and media environments. Industries willfully confuse the concepts of pleasure and happiness with the sole motive being profit. They prey and capitalize on our addictions, or pleasures, in the name of selling happiness.
Pleasure and happiness rely on the presence of each other, but they are decidedly different phenomena. Both pleasure and happiness have been slowly and mysteriously vanishing from our global ethos as the prevalence of addiction and depression continue to climb.
In the last half-century, America and most of the Western world have become more unhappy as well as sicker.
Most confuse pleasure with happiness. Corporations have profited from increased consumption of virtually everything by promising happiness, but they are really selling pleasure, and we have lost big-time. People have abdicated happiness for pleasure. We have been suckered into believing that no pleasure means no happiness. Chronic excessive pleasure eventually leads to addiction and depression, the two most unhappy states of the human condition.
The chiropractic connection
Modern lifestyles are against innate intelligence. They purposefully exploit pleasure (dopamine) at the expense of happiness (serotonin). Dr. Lustig eloquently attributes this to a profit motive. The chiropractic connection is that such elevated levels of dopamine also result in elevated levels of norepinephrine, reducing the historic effectiveness of the chiropractic adjustment. Yet, apparently, chiropractic miracles remain commonplace in less affluent societies whose inhabitants have experienced less “hacking” of their brain neurochemistry.
This book is one of the most important books ever written for anyone who truly wants to understand the modern world and its ills. It also shows a pathway for solutions, and that is a return to the innate lifestyle.